The publication: The Miami Herald (January 7, 2010)
The place: Mia at Biscayne
The reviewer: Victoria Pesce Elliott (“VPE”)
♦ (One star)
I read through this review once, and then again. And then a third time. I still couldn’t tell whether VPE enjoyed Mia at Biscayne, loathed it, or somewhere in between. Her recommendation that readers visit Mia “for a fun night out” was tempered by the admonition “while it lasts.” Reading between the lines, she seems to be exhibiting pity for the chef, Gerdy Rodriguez, whose resume includes at least one other tour of duty in Miami’s worst culinary war zone, the Vietnam War (Iraq War?) of professional kitchens, Karu & Y. Then again, when I first stepped foot in Mia, I had a flashback to that self-professed savior of Overtown which flamed out, surprising absolutely no one. This is another over-the-top ultra-lounge in a part of town that barely had a need for a regular lounge.
The good news? Reviewing this review did give me occasion to revisit VPE’s January 25, 2007 review of Karu & Y (no link; available in the Herald archives for a steep $2.95 until the paper folds). Now that is a restaurant review. VPE writes: “Walking into the futuristic, water-themed oasis from gritty Northwest 14th Street provides the first of many mind-blowing contrasts that make an evening here so disappointing. Hopscotching over a used condom and a pair of old underwear, we cross a sturdy moat and make our way through a corridor of waterfalls along a glass walkway set over Mediterranean-blue water.” What’s happened to that voice? Maybe VPE is bummed out by the recession, reflecting the general mood of the city at large. Now, her latest review seems tentative, as if she’s afraid to offend.
This review at least tells a story. Picture VPE surrounded by telenovela stars while she tries to attract the attention of her inattentive server. Picture “six gooey, golden, béchamel-rich balls of ham croquetas dabbed with a bit of cream and a tiny round of chive that looked as if it had been placed with a tweezer.” Picture “disappearing waitresses, clueless food runners, over-eager bussers” and especially the “cartoon-character bouncers.” Plot? Check. Characters? Check. Description beyond just the ingredients used in the dish? Check. Overall a good review, although missing that strong voice that a critic must wield so that we, her poor subjects, don’t waste our hard-earned gold bullion on some flavorless court-bouillon.
I miss those days of Karu & Y. The review that is, not the restaurant.
(Note: Ranking system is extremely stingy and it follows NYT rules. Zero stars = poor; One star = good; Two stars = very good; Three stars = excellent ; Four stars = extraordinary.)